Major League Baseball teams could kick off the 2020 season at home — if they play at all.
A new report from USA Today claims that league executives are preparing for the possibility of restarting spring training at each team's regular-season ballpark instead of initial ideas of taking all teams to spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona. The move would allow teams to move quickly into what is expected to be a three-week training camp before starting an abbreviated season, though the exact time frame is still unclear.
The in-home training camps would be cheaper for MLB teams, as the other plan would have required players to stay in hotels and teams to provide per diem payments for meals. However, there would be some other difficulties, the report added.
"The biggest disadvantage, the executives said, would be having the use of only one field instead of the usual six at their spring training sites," the report read. "Teams would also be mostly limited to playing intrasquad games during the three weeks, particularly those located outside of two-team cities. Teams in certain regions could also face weather uncertainty."
Reports have indicated that MLB executives have cycled through a number of possibilities for starting the 2020 season after the coronavirus outbreak forced an end to spring training back in March. Many of the ideas have including selecting a centralized location for teams to play, including the existing facilities in Florida and Arizona that are now used for spring training.
But there is still a great deal of uncertainty about when states will begin reopening in full and whether they would allow baseball games to take place. This week, top White House expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that some sports leagues may have to forgo their 2020 seasons as the outbreak is still ongoing. Experts have predicted that some of the social distancing measures will need to remain in place until a vaccine is created for the virus, which is not expected until at least early 2021.Fauci added that sports will not be able to move forward until there is a way to ensure the safety of players, echoing the warnings from other experts that any outbreak among players could bring another abrupt end to the season.
"Safety, for the players and for the fans, trumps everything," Fauci said this week, via The New York Times. "If you can't guarantee safety, then unfortunately you're going to have to bite the bullet and say, 'We may have to go without this sport for this season.'"